The complaint that there aren’t enough minorities in literature is entirely valid, because you feel like you can’t ‘see’ yourself in literature that’s full of white cis able-bodied females (or males).
And a reviewer who is of the same minority represented will bring their own experiences and may see something in the literature that someone else with different experiences may not see.
I’m a reader. I have the power of imagination. Allusion. Allegory. Metaphor. In the film Chappie, the intelligent robot is physically assaulted by a bad man in a van and his arm is cut off. This scene really upsets me, not because I have also had my arm cut off but because I see it as a metaphor for sexual assault, which I have experienced. The film UP is banned in my house because the opening sequence leaves me sobbing inconsolably, but I have never grieved over infertility and lost my spouse. I have, however, known loss of some kind and I can bring my own experiences to my consuming.
I bring my own experiences to reviewing.
Just because I haven’t experienced what an author has experienced doesn’t make my experiences any less relevant.
True, I’m aware that one of the reasons I loved Sara Barnard’s Beautiful Broken Girls is because I identified with so much of it. Barnard is a white English author and her character is a white English girl and yeah, I’m white and I lived in England.
I also loved the fuck out of Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation about a half black teen warrior in 19th century America fighting zombies, which I absolutely do not identify with in the least, but I still loved the book, thought it was amazing, and wrote a review of my experience of reading the book.
Would Dread Nation be less awesome or less relevant if Ireland were some other minority, or if she were white?
The answer to me is no. So why is my review, my voice, my experiences less relevant, respected, and wanted than the review, voice and experience of someone who is not me?
It’s not reverse racism, because that doesn’t exist. I understand the call for more diverse reviewers. But shooting down other reviewers is not the way to go.